How to shop online safely

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By Emily Alvarenga

Signal Senior Staff Writer

Nobody is immune from scams, not even Nathan Grant, Senior Credit Industry Analyst at Credit Card Insider, who tells the story of a time he was tricked into changing his address online by a website.

“I just Googled ‘free change of address’ and … I clicked the first link that looked completely legitimate,” Grant said. “It had the US Postal Service logos and everything, but it ended up being a fraudulent site.”

While the website was actually providing the service, it charged Grant $ 45 instead of the $ advertised.

“So you wouldn’t be wiser if you ignored your transactions,” added Grant.

With the Christmas season just around the corner, it is almost guaranteed that many of us will go online to do some of our Christmas shopping.

Over the years, the internet has revolutionized the way people shop, making it so easy for items to appear on your doorstep a few days later.

It has also led to an increase in scammers as shoppers are scammed online every day.

With more online shopping comes more credit card fraud, which Grant says has become one of the fastest growing forms of identity theft.

Find trustworthy websites to shop for

“Scammers are looking for every opportunity to try to scam people,” Grant said, adding that there are ways to avoid people being scammed by fake websites.

When shopping online, there are a few things to look out for to make sure a website is safe and legitimate, including HTTPS instead of HTTP in the website’s url since the S stands for safe, which means the website Has secure encryption, or A lock icon to the left of the address bar also means the site is secure.

Online shoppers should create unique passwords when creating accounts to prevent hackers from accessing multiple accounts with the same credentials.

In addition, shoppers should use secure networks to shop because hackers can spy on public WiFi networks and intercept financial data.

Beware of untrustworthy “drop shippers”

Have you ever bought something online just so it doesn’t look like the photos and description when it arrives?

It’s called “drop shipping” and has become one of the most common ways people get scammed while shopping online.

Amazon, for example, doesn’t just sell its own products. It also allows smaller businesses to sell items on its marketplace, which they call “third party sellers” – some of which are not as reliable.

Scammers on sites like this one often steal a real seller’s photos and listing descriptions, set up their own listings selling the same product for a fraction of the price, and send out substandard products instead.

Worst of all, often you won’t be able to return the product as many of these third party vendors don’t offer the same return policy as Amazon, nor do they offer refunds.

However, there are ways to avoid being scammed by drop shippers, such as: B. Reading reviews, as no reviews or negative reviews can often be a warning sign. or check the return policy before making any purchases.

At Amazon, choosing the “Amazon Prime Only” option can also rule out fraudsters as third-party vendors using Amazon Prime must adhere to Amazon’s terms and conditions, including free shipping and no-questions-asked refunds for returns. Buyers should compare sellers when making purchases where there are multiple sellers of the same product and look for the one with the best reviews.

Consider your payment method

A good first line of defense to make sure your card information hasn’t been stolen is to keep an eye on your online bank statements and get your money back if you do.

Using a credit card instead of a debit card tied to your actual bank account with your actual money is one suggestion.

Once funds have been withdrawn from your debit account, that money is gone until the fraud investigation is complete, which can take weeks while credit cards use borrowed funds and have built-in protections.

Online shoppers should also consider using third-party apps like PayPal, which protect your payment information and offer buyer protection when making payments on new websites.

Mobile and digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay can also be more secure as they too encrypt your data, using tokenization to replace your sensitive card data with a series of letters and numbers that are meaningless outside of the transaction that generated them.


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